I received an email from the teenage son of Fred in the evening and I could read signs of concern in every word he wrote in that letter. I decided to address it immediately.
“Dear Uncle B,
It’s funny because we pray to God and ask for mercy to change the rough situation we are in, not knowing that He put us in the situation only so that we could change ourselves. I read this status of yours Uncle Bob and it made me think. Does everything that happens to us is because of our own self?
Past few days in school have been too rough for me. Why am I different from the usual kids? How do I fit in?
My brother and I have been adopted by Daddy Fred. We love him, mom, you and aunt Aaliyah for taking great care of us. I managed to make some friends in the art class but somehow it is difficult to be a part of the peer group and be one of them.
I have come to realize that the most important thing for a teenager is to belong. Human connection is extremely important and loneliness is not a choice at all. I tried to fit in but every time I failed miserably or ended up trying to please people.
I am not a part of the sports team, the lunch dates at the cafeteria, the after-school-hang-out-gang and not even the study-together-group in the library. I am usually the subject of the class pranks or often times I am unnoticed like the silent white walls of the classroom.
I am hurting and feel alienated. I wanted to share this in the upcoming get-together on Labor Day in your house but I couldn’t wait so writing to you. I am sure like always you will have a trick up your sleeve to get out of this sticky situation or as you have written in the quote if not the situation at least I could bring a positive change in myself.
“My dearest N,
I am glad you reached out. That is the first step of yours that shows how open you are to change. Attitude defines you. You don’t need to fit in or become a people-pleaser. You just need to be a good observer and be empathetic. Be there for your class mates where they need you and subtly you will create a place in their hearts. Never allow yourself or others around you to create humor at the cost of someone else, only those succumb to mockery who aren’t witty enough to create healthy humor and have fun. When in school do not take things too personally. You create your hell and your heaven with your attitude, perspective and judgments. Do not overthink, it will lead to negativity. Listen more to the people around you instead of the stories your mind is spinning. You will soon discover that everyone around you is seeking the same support and are as vulnerable as you feel you are today.
The best way to learn is to model the behavior of the ones who are popular. You will notice there’s one thing common in all of them. They are approachable and have an attitude which includes people. The friendly ones have a cheerful personality. Smiles always work like magic because smile has no nationality or type. It is the language which every heart understands. Greet your school-mates warmly. Make their day positive and better because of your presence and soon your days will be filled with mirth.
You have to change not what is out there rather what is in here to make a difference and to win friends.
I replied almost instantly after receiving his email. He sent me a sweet virtual hug and thank you greeting.
What do you think is important for making friends? Share in the comments.